Happy Dad's Day
Happy Father’s Day, reader, if it means anything to ya.
I still have my father, what a gift, and he is a good man, an interesting person, the guy who raised me, and who I ultimately grew up to be a lot like, but he thinks more in code and mechanics, where I’m all poetry and prose and other space cadet shit.
In my American Life, I have had different kinds of Dads: older, even if just by a little bit, men who went against the Patriarchal grain to be good to girls like me. And girls like you. And like you. And maybe never you, and for that I am so very sorry.
And I know I hate on White American Men a lot on this blog, but it’s just that I was raised (mainly) by and around and have lived among White American Men and not all, only most of them, are broken and corrupted. Not my Dad though, and hopefully not yours either, reader.
And I know a lot of Good American Men (of all colors and creeds) who are my age or younger and who are the most excellent Dads to their kids. Even their girl ones. Even their gay ones. Even their trans ones. Even the men who I never imagined would grow up to be a “Dad.” A good one, at that.
Nobody has A Perfect Dad because Humans are deeply Imperfect and all Dads are Human. All Moms are Human, too. The Perfect Parents do not exist. And we can be a Perma Petulant Teenager and mad about it all our Actual Lives, or we can Grow Up as American Adults and put aside our Parents Humanness, and take a moment to celebrate them, to honor them, whether they live or no, as parents, for they gave you life, even the ones who may not have given you birth.
And some of you had Monster Parents. Such parents exist. As a longtime American Public School Teacher, as a lifelong American, I know, most acutely, that Monster Parents exist because Monster Humans exist. And if you had Monster Parents, damn, Kid (even Grown Kid), I am crazy sorry. Honor and celebrate your own survival today.
Father’s Day is a Good Day for me, in all my American cynicism, to honor and reflect upon the older American Men who entered (some to stay) my life at some point and played the role of Dad. There’s My Dad, of course, and then there’s Uncle Ed, the late Rev. Dr. DuPriest, Uncle Bob, my dear friend Jeff Speller, my late so beloved Uncle Al. Among a few others who I haven’t meant to forget here. These were American Men who showed me that Men can be Good. Men can be Gentle and Sincere. Men can be a Help instead of a Hindrance to women like me.
And there are so many American Men in my life who are damn good Dads to the Kids who are their own and also to the Kids who need an extra Dad.
My Dad taught me how to fish when I was a little girl. Like bait-it-and-cut-it-yourself fish. Didn’t matter to him that I was a girl. I wanted to learn how to fish, and he was going to show me. All that Gender shit never meant squat to dad. He only cared that we were healthy and clothed and fed. And we always were. Anyway, dad taught me how to fish, and through his own actions how to feel about the unpleasant act of piercing the living worm, of opening the still gasping fish, and he never did these things cavalierly either, though he’s been fishing for far longer than me. My Dad knew, and still knows, that killing any living being is Serious Business, must be taken Seriously. Fishing was serious, and also fun, and also so relaxing, and so thrilling. Dads, take your daughters fishing, if you do such things. If your daughters still do such things. Make her bait and cast her own line. Make her learn to mind the hook. Make her know what it is to grasp in her hands a living, sentient being of God, and make that grave decision for the fish “your freedom or my food?” If nothing else, you’ll have taught her a little about America.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads who are dad-ing at their level best.
Be good, hooligans.
Fishing w/my brother & Dad. Circa 1980.